We use some essential cookies to make this website work.
We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use forestresearch.gov.uk, remember your settings and improve our services.
Preparing to search
‘Soil quality’ encompasses the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil. These properties determine the ability of the soil to perform a variety of functions indicative of a healthy soil.
Ultimately, these processes in combination will allow the whole ecosystem to function in a sustainable manner. For urban greenspace to be sustainable, the soil quality must be able to support both soil communities and vegetation. The presence of greenspace can serve to improve soil quality over time.
Greenspace is often established on previously disturbed soils, such as on former industrial land. These soils are often of poor quality, with low organic matter content and poor structure, sometimes containing contaminants that may limit ecosystem functioning. The creation of greenspace, often in combination with ground preparation (for example to reduce soil compaction) and the incorporation of soil amendments will allow the development of healthy soils over time. This achieved by:
The importance of soil quality is recognised by the UK Government, and a Soil Strategy (PDF-508K) for England has been produced by Defra. This strategy specifically mentions the role of urban greenspace in protecting soils in the built environment.
Greenspaces affect soil quality in urban areas in three main ways.
These processes occur through natural soil development, or as a result of good management practices.
van Herwijnen, R. and Hutchings, T. (2006). Laboratory Analysis and Soils and Spoils (PDF-294K). Best Practice Guidance for Land Regeneration, BPG Note 2. Forest Research, Farnham.
Foot, K. and Sinnett, D. (2006). Imported Soil or Soil-Forming Materials Placement (PDF-190K). Best Practice Guidance for Land Regeneration, BPG Note 5. Forest Research, Farnham.
Forest Research has extensive experience of conducting soil surveys and providing management options for soil creation and protection. We provide advice and recommendations on the sustainable management of soils and the use of soil amendments.
Forest Research has a long track record in conducting research on the establishment of greenspace on a variety of soil types, including the effects of soil quality on tree survival and growth, and of the use of fertilisers, soil amendments and pesticides on soil quality.
Cookies are files saved on your phone, tablet or computer when you visit a website.
Find out more about cookies on forestresearch.gov.uk
We use 3 types of cookie. You can choose which cookies you're happy for us to use.
These essential cookies do things like remember your progress through a form. They always need to be on.
We use Google Analytics to measure how you use the website so we can improve it based on user needs. Google Analytics sets cookies that store anonymised information about: how you got to the site the pages you visit on forestresearch.gov.uk and how long you spend on each page what you click on while you're visiting the site
Some forestresearch.gov.uk pages may contain content from other sites, like YouTube or Flickr, which may set their own cookies. These sites are sometimes called ‘third party’ services. This tells us how many people are seeing the content and whether it’s useful.